Not bound by the borders of the state that shares its name, Air Wisconsin Airlines flies throughout the eastern half of the US. The regional carrier operates under the US Airways Express banner, providing connecting service for US Airways to approximately 70 cities in more than 25 states and in three Canadian provinces. (It is not owned by US Airways.) Air Wisconsin maintains a fleet of about 70 aircraft, consisting of 50-seat Canadair regional jets (CRJs) made by Bombardier. In addition to its passenger transportation operations, Air Wisconsin Airlines provides ground-based services, such as passenger check-in and baggage handling, on behalf of United Air Lines, at about 20 airports.
Air Wisconsin operates under capacity purchase agreements with US Airways, whereby US Airways pays predetermined fees to Air Wisconsin, regardless of the number of passengers on board. US Airways also pays for variable costs, such as airport landing fees and passenger liability insurance. Air Wisconsin also doesn't spend money on marketing, scheduling, ticketing, pricing, and seat inventories – that too is controlled by US Airways. In turn, all of Air Wisconsin’s revenues go to US Airways.
While Air Wisconsin is not responsible for many operating costs associated with running an expensive airline, critics of the capacity purchase agreement system say it doesn’t give regional partners like Air Wisconsin much control over their business.
US Airways also uses Republic Airlines, Mesa Airlines, and SkyWest as its regional partners. Including Air Wisconsin, the four regionals combined shuttled 20 million passengers in 2013.
The company has maintenance bases in Milwaukee; Philadelphia; Norfolk, Virginia; and Columbia, South Carolina.
Acting as a third-party regional carrier for US Airways, Air Wisconsin carries passengers from low-density markets, which is uneconomical for US Airways to serve with its fleet of large jets. The regional carrier also offers complementary service to existing mainline markets by operating flights during off-peak periods between mainline flights.
Air Wisconsin Airlines began operations in 1965. It has been owned by a group of private investors since 1993.